[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: Exposition

In a message dated 4/18/99 3:40:05 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
Edels@email.msn.com writes:

<< By the way - in short story Science Fiction - don't spend a lot of time
 explaining equipment or theories - especially if all the characters involved
 should already know about them.   >>

Mr. Edels is as usual correct, though I have to carve out an exception for 
expository narrative whose tone makes the author a successful character.  
Expository dialogue also works, though I do wonder whether the character who 
is supposed to be listening doesn't let his mind wander onto less pedantic 
preoccupations.  There's a reason the ancient mariner (the Coleridge poem) 
could stoppeth only one of three 'gallants' on their way into a wedding, and 
I suspect he got an elbow in the ribs from one of the other two.
At any rate, here's some Hitchhiker for an example of brilliant exposition:
And thus were created the conditions for a staggering new form of specialist 
industry: custom-made luxury planet building. The home of this industry was 
the planet  Magrathea,  where  hyperspatial engineers  sucked  matter through 
white holes in space to form it into dream planets - gold planets, platinum 
planets, soft rubberplanets  with lots of earthquakes - all lovingly made to 
meet the exacting standards that the Galaxy's richest men  naturally  came to 
But so successful was this venture  that  Magrathea  itself  soon became  the 
richest planet of all time and the rest of the Galaxy was reduced to abject 
poverty. And so the system broke down,  the Empire  collapsed,  and  a  long  
sullen  silence  settled over a billion worlds, disturbed only by the pen 
scratchings of scholars as  they laboured into the night over smug little 
treatises on the value of a planned political economy.
Magrathea itself disappeared and its memory soon passed into the obscurity of